The Struggle

Not one of us if free from the distortion that occurs after birth. We only experience varying degrees and intensities.

“The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The
willingness to learn is a choice.”  ― Brian Herbert

We are born into this world in perfect form. We are innately able to express ourselves, we smile, eat, sleep, burp, and fart at will. And then we learn not to.

For the first two years of our lives we are taught to walk and talk and then someone – perhaps many – tell us to sit down and shut up; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told to eat everything on our plate and then not to be fat; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that our parents love us and then they leave or don’t pay attention; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that love is wonderful and then it hurts like hell; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that sex / sexual touching might be bad but it feels physically good; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told we can by one segment of society and that we can’t by another; and we struggle to make sense out of it.

We are told that Santa is real and then find out that he is not; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that white lies are acceptable but dishonesty is not; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told there are laws and then we break them without consequence; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that marriage is forever and then we divorce in anger; and we struggle to make sense of it.

And along the way we just do the best that we can.

Most of us.

We are born pure of heart, perhaps believing in unending possibilities and then we are told, we learn… something else.

It’s not anyone’s fault specifically as each of us has faced the same fate. We are all born into a mold of prior teachings that bends and shapes the beginning of our personal story until we have sculpted a cast of our own with the addition of social and cultural contradictions.

Essentially, we are all … each and every one of us … bent out of shape from our original, perfect form. Designed individually by the things we struggled to make sense of; the things that we observed and interpreted.

This is the foundation, the cornerstone of personal growth.

Learning how you came to think and understand the things that you do.

Why was it that you disagreed with your parents but your sibling acquiesced? Why did you learn to feed your feelings while your mother was a beauty queen? How did you learn to motivate yourself even though your father never held a full-time job?

We are products of our family life, social environment, town culture, and national philosophies. We come to believe that what makes one of us ‘right’ makes another of us ‘wrong’ when in fact it only makes us DIFFERENT.

Not one of us if free from the distortion that occurs after birth. We only experience varying degrees and intensities. We only differ in the shape, color, and size of those variants.

Not one of us is exempt.

The secret here is an absence of judgment. An understanding that we are all the same in that we are bent – broken – and twisted by our backgrounds, our heritage, and our experiences. We cannot possibly acknowledge that our extent of understanding is “the” best, “the” right, “the” optimal interpretation of life.

Once we allow for our differences and truly honor the fact that what makes me different from you is the way we were bent… we can begin the process of compassion and acceptance. We suddenly see one another as perfect human babies that are composed of the same material but shaped by different forms.

Like spoons.

The same molten metal is forged into any variety of individual and unique pieces. Each one of them intended for a slightly different use generating almost endless possibilities. And yet they all seem to serve a distinctive purpose and are enjoyed by a variety of populations.

We seem to accept that there are so many types of spoons without question; without judgement.

What would your life be like if you stopped to consider that the person you are angry with is bent? What about the person with whom you are disappointed? Have you considered that they may be formed into a shape that may be painful to exist within?

Have you thought about your own bends? Are they working in your life? Do you need to hammer out a few kinks? Can you accept that the forces at work as you were originally being shaped may have been bent and broken; making it impossible for you to exist without needing a few repairs?

Can you take responsibility now for those corrections?

You are where you are. Your shape is your shape. Anything that happens now must happen because you are aware and deliberate about making change.

Be what you want to be. Take the time to know your shape and learn how to bend in the way that makes life work for you.

 

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Dear. Mr. President… I have some questions.

I have concerns, true concerns, that your vision is Nirvana. It sounds incredible…

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on your achievement. I am an American Citizen who believes in democracy and therefore I respect that you now sit in the Oval Office and can make decisions that will affect the rest of my life and potentially the lives of my children and theirs. I should tell you that I did not vote for you but I did respectfully listen to your Inaugural address to soften some of the angst I feel about your Presidency. You see, I ‘want’ to support my democratic beliefs… the ones that state I should honor the People’s voice and thereby… support you.

I liked many of the things you said but I have a LOT of questions. May I address them with you?

I love that you are expressing concern for American citizens but I would like more information about your statement “What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.”

  1. DOES THIS ALSO MEAN THE PEOPLE WHO DID NOT VOTE FOR YOU?

“Everyone is listening to you now.”

  1. DOES THAT INCLUDE ME? WILL YOU LISTEN TO MY QUESTIONS?

“Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.”

Yes we do!! Thank you!

“But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”

Sadly, that is also terribly true but shouldn’t we be asking the question WHY??

  1. WHY ARE THERE SO MANY RUSTED OUT FACTORIES?

Isn’t it because those companies found cheaper labor overseas?

Isn’t that because the American worker demanded higher wages and better working conditions which put too much pressure on the profit margins of those companies?

Isn’t that because the American investors demanded more dividends and higher stock prices?

Isn’t that because if we actually priced American goods with the same profit margin requirements we couldn’t afford to buy American products?

“The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.”

This is GREAT!

“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry;”

  1. NOT TO POINT ANY FINGERS, BUT WILL YOU AND YOUR COMPANIES DEMAND THAT ANYTHING WITH YOUR NAME ON IT BE PRODUCED IN AMERICA BY AMERICANS?

“subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own”

  1. ARE WE GOING TO SIT BY AND WATCH OTHER COUNTRIES MUTILATE ONE ANOTHER, WAITING FOR THEM TO COME AFTER US?

“and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.” 

Yay!… some of our roads are deplorable!

“The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.”

  1. WILL WE BE PENALIZED FOR BUYING PRODUCTS MADE OUTSIDE THE USA? Generally, they are less expensive and my budget is slim. I think most things sold at Walmart and the Dollar Store are manufactured overseas. I do some shopping there. And in the winter, I still like to buy strawberries from Chile.

“From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.”

Ok, that sounds great!!

“Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

Mr. President…  I know that some of my neighbors are immigrants from Mexico who are willing to work in the mushroom industry. They pick mushrooms in closed buildings that smell like manure. They work for cheap – keeping the price of mushrooms low.

  1. HOW WILL YOU ENTICE AMERICAN WORKERS TO TAKE THE LESS DESIRABLE JOBS THAT ARE CURRENTLY AT BEST, MINIMUM WAGE OPPORTUNITIES?

“We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work — rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.” Awesome! We need most of that stuff!

  1. WHO PAYS FOR ALL OF THAT?
  2. WILL THEY BE UNION JOBS? WILL THOSE JOBS PROVIDE A LIVABLE INCOME?

“We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.”

  1. PLEASE TELL ME THOSE RULES APPLY TO YOU AS WELL.

“We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world — but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.”

Again, this is exciting, good news, awesome, etc…. but….

  1. WHAT IF THEY NEED OUR MILITARY SUPPORT? We can’t simply turn our backs on them, can we? In what way does it serve our interests to do that?

“At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.”

I love this statement Mr. President.

  1. DOES THAT MEAN ALL AMERICANS? REGARDLESS OF THEIR RACE, SEXUALITY, GENDER, RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, POLITICAL AFFILIATION, SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS, ETC.?

“We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.”

  1. DOES THAT MEAN WE CAN DISAGREE WITH YOU?

When America is united, America is totally unstoppable”.

I totally agree!! This excites me!!

“The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”

  1. WHAT ACTION WILL YOU TAKE, MR. PRESIDENT?

I have concerns, true concerns, that your vision is Nirvana. It sounds incredible… much like the founding father’s vision of a new world. I like the way it sounds but there are so many holes. Our economy is built on supply and demand. As Americans, we have demanded lower prices because we have been taught to focus on profit. Not just corporate profit but personal profit. We have been taught to have more; make it bigger and better. We have been taught that merchandise is disposable and so it needs to be cheap.

Simultaneously, we have been taught to do it ourselves. We all but eliminated the job of travel agents by using the internet to plan our own trips. Ditto for investing … Charles Schwab made it possible for us to save fees and do it ourselves. We are a NATION of DIY’ers – people who look for getting the most for less!!

  1. HOW WILL YOU CONVINCE US TO PAY MORE FOR PRODUCTS AND ACCEPT LESS PROFIT or DO YOU SEE THAT HAPPENING ANOTHER WAY?

Mr. President, these are but a few of the questions I have because while I really connected with a lot of your speech it doesn’t feel possible or realistic based on what I know about people and their behavior. As a mental health practitioner, it is my job to understand how people think and what behaviors are changeable.

Our problem is not that our health care premiums are too high or that there is no wall on the Mexican border. As I see it, our problems start with GREED. The simple desire to have more than we need. Greed has a negative connotation Mr. President – at least to those of us who don’t have as much as we need.

  1. PLEASE TELL ME MR. PRESIDENT, WHEN YOU QUITE LITERALLY SIT ON A GOLD THRONE, HOW DO YOU ADDRESS OUR GREED?

 

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